Darlington bag snatcher robbed woman while giving her directions to late night takeaway

The handbag contained a new iPhone, that the victim had bought that day. Credit: NCJ Media

A bag snatcher who robbed a woman while giving her directions to a late night takeaway had a childhood marred by trauma, a court has heard.

Sean Taylor, 32, was homeless and sleeping rough under the arches of The Cornmill shopping centre, in Darlington when he agreed to show two women the way to a late night takeaway.

But prosecutor Nicola Masters said that Taylor then grabbed one of the women's handbags, in the early hours of 30 November last year.

Ms Masters added: "She held onto it but the handle snapped. She ran after him but she wasn't fast enough."

The handbag contained a new iPhone, which the victim had bought that day. It also contained her bank card, driving licence, keys, perfume and cosmetics.

Teesside Crown Court heard Taylor then headed to Woodlands Road garage, where he was captured on CCTV using the stolen bank card.

Police then received a call from security staff at Darlington Memorial Hospital, reporting a suspicious person.

Taylor was found in the hospital grounds and arrested. He was found with the victim's keys.

Taylor, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to robbery and fraud.

He has 40 previous convictions for 85 offences, which include burglary, harassment, stalking, intimidation and shop theft.

The court heard Taylor had endured a childhood of "absolute tragedy", after watching his dad, Alan Taylor, fell into an "extreme downward spiral of mental health problems" after his girlfriend, Julie Paterson, was murdered by notorious cannibal killer David Harker.

Robert Mochrie told the court that his client's dad then committed murder in order to get into prison and take revenge on David Harker. He later took his own life in HMP Holme House.

"All of this played out in front of Sean Taylor, who was aged 11 or 12," said Mr Mochrie. "He was forced to suffer an absurd childhood. He lived through absolute tragedy and his life has been marred by drink and drugs issues. He has frequented the court system for years."

Recorder Mark McKone accepted Taylor had suffered a "terrible childhood", adding: "You witnessed horrendous trauma. But your offending is greatly aggravated by your significant criminal record."

Taylor was jailed for two-years-and-three-months, and will be released on licence after serving half of the prison term.

Following the hearing, Detective Sergeant Lee Foster, from Darlington CID said: “This was an extremely frightening incident for the victim who was understandably shaken.

“Thankfully, we were able to identify Taylor swiftly, make an arrest and get him put behind bars for the new year.”

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